Thailand
lntroduction 
          Thailand officially the kingdom, land of the free, was known as Siam until May 11 , 1949. The word Thai means "freedom" in Thai language and is also the name of the majority Thai ethnic group. lt is the only Southeast Asian Country never to have been colonized by western power.
          ln the past, Thai society was very simple: the people were kind and always smiled. We were called “Siam  Muang Yim". Thai people shared thing with each other. But today everything has changed because people think only about work and work to make more money. They are too busy to help other people and only their family and themselves.
             The official calendar in Thailand is based on the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.
          Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and the king is extremely respected. The Thai King recently celebrated 60 years on the throne and Thai citizen commemorated the events and showed their reverence by wearing yellow-T-shirts, the official royal colour. 
             Thais believe the head is the most sacred part of the body. The feet are considered as the basest part of the body; don't rest your feet or put your shoes on the table.
          Thais feel strongly about their religion, so don't wear your short clothes to a temple, don't climb over the Buddha images and take off your shoes before entering a temple.
          The traditional Thai greeting is the “Wai” the hands are brought together in front of the chin.
          Sanuk is a Thai word describing everything that is fun. This combines with the phrase “Mai Pen Rai" or never minded.
Background 
            Thailand's origin is traditionally tied to the short lived kingdom of Sukhothai founded in 1238, after which the larger kingdom of Ayutthaya was established in the mid 14th century.
           Siam is the name, which the country was known all over the world until 1949. On 11 may, 1949, an official proclamation Changed the name of the country to "Prathet Thai", or Thailand.
           Contact with various European powers became in the 16th century. Thailand was never colonized by a European power. There are two main reasons for this.
           First, it is left as a buffer state between parts of Asia that were colonized by the French and the British. Second, Thailand has been a number of very able rulers in the 1800s. However western influence including the threat of force, led to many changes in the 19th in century and major concessions to British mercantile interest.                         
            This included the lost of the 3 Southern Provinces which later became Malaysia's 3 northern states.
             The geographical Thailand located in the Southeast Asian on the gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea and covering an area of 513,115 sq. km. and shares boundaries with Myanmar on the west and Northwest, Laos on the east and Northeast, Cambodia on the Southeast and Malaysia on the South.
             Topographic Thailand is divided into four natural regions:
            The North is a mountainous region comprising natural forest.
             Central Thailand is the basin of the Chao Phraya River. It is the richest and most extensive rice producing area in the country and has often been called the "Rice Bowl of Asia".
            The Northeast region is known as "lsan". The Northeast is a huge region with over 20 millions inhabitants; the most of them are engaged in agriculture.
             The Southern region is hilly to mountainous with thick forest and rich deposits of mineral and ores. This region is the centre for the production of rubber. The South's wealth has been based for centuries on its rubber and tin industries.
             The attraction places are Phuket lsland, Koh Samui, Krabi, Hatyai and Songkhla playing supporting roles.
                Climate in Thailand is warm and rather humid tropical country and with long hours of sunshine. There are three seasons: summer season from March to May, rainy season from June to October, winter season from November to February.
            The population of Thailand is approximately 64,233,001 million (2005). The population includes 75% Thai , 11% Chinese, 3.5 % Malays and also Mon, Khmer, Lao, Karen minorities, Vietnames, lndian and others.
                  Buddhism, the national religion is the professed faith of 94.6 percent of the population. Theravada Buddhism is the state religion. Practically all-Thai males enter monkhood once in their lifetime to study the teachings of Lord Buddha. 
             The rest of the population embraces lslam, Christianity, Hinduism and other. There is absolute religious freedom. The king of Thailand under the constitution and in practice is patron of all major religions.
              The official national language spoken by almost 100 percent of the Thai population is Thai. The Thai language has its own alphabet. lt is a tonal language. The most polysyllabic words in the vocabulary have been borrowed mainly from Khmer, Pali, Sanskrit, The other languages are Chinese and Malays. English is also well understood in most cities for visitors to communicate or bargain. The English language as subject is widely used in public school and Universities.
           Thailand is governed by a constitutional monarchy with the bicameral Thai parliament into the National Assembly, which consists of a House of Representatives of 500 seats and a senate of 200 seats (Constitutional B.E.2540). The head of government is the Prime Minister who is appointed by the king from among the members of the Lower House of parliament usually the leader of the party that can organize a majority coalition government. 
             Thailand is divided into 76 provinces, which are gathered into 5 groups of provinces by location and districts, sub-districts and villages. An appointed governor administers each province.
             There are also 2 special governed districts: the capital Bangkok and Pattaya, which Bangkok is at a provincial level while Pattaya is a part of Chonburi province.
             Thais are tolerant of most kinds of behavior. Theravada Buddhism is central to modern Thai identity and belief. However, in the Southern most parts of Thailand, lslam is prevalent. Several different ethnic groups are: Burmese, Laos, cambodia, Malaysia and Mon have maintained distinctly traditional way of life despite strong Thai culture influence.
                 Ethnic Chinese also are from a significant part of Thai society. Bangkok's Chinatown is located on a Yaowarat road.
             Worship of ancestors is a large part of Thai spiritual practice as well as charity towards Buddhist monks.
             Seniority is a very important concept in Thai culture. Thais respect the elderly so much. They give honour to the eldest first. 
             Thai food blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Some common ingredients used in Thai cooking include garlic, chilies, limejuice, fish sauce, coriander and basil etc.
              The standard currently unit is the baht, and it is divided into on hundred units called stang. coins are used as 25 stang, 50 stang, 1 baht, 2 baht, 5 baht, 10 baht and paper currency is issued as 10 baht, 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht and 1000 baht.
             The national anthem is played on all ceremonial occasions of national importance and while the national flag is being raised each morning at 08.00 and lowered each evening at 06.00 p.m.
             Thailand's national flag ceremoniously raised each morning at 08.00 and lowered each evening at 06.00 p.m. in every town. Three colours of Thai flag are red band meaning of nation, white band meaning of religions and blue band meaning of monarchy.
              Basically Thailand is an agricultural country with about 80 percent of population engaged in farming or related occupations of agriculture. Rice is the major export item. 
             Most National holiday and festivals are of religious nature and serve to monarchy such as December 5th the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyades is the Thai national day and Public Holiday.
               There is much transportation in Thailand. Thailand has a very effective rail system linking Bangkok to provinces around the country.
              You can travel to any point outside Bangkok by air through Thai international airway, Angel air and Bangkok airways.
             The bus network within the metropolis is every efficient and economical. There are also air-conditioned buses regularly plying these routes. Provincial buses have various terminals and depending on destination.
              Within Bangkok, the sky train is the fastest way to get you to commercial and tourist places. 
              Taxi meters starts at 35 baht for 2 kms. You'll have to insist for them to switch on the meter.
               Chao Phraya Boat expresses are most enjoyable and cheap Bht. 5, Baht. 15 from near Meanam hotel, north to lovely Nonthaburi ride, stops all along the way, namely Chinatown, grand palace and Sathorn etc.
               Another taxi-style mode of transport is the local Tuk-Tuk an open air, three-wheeled to Thailand. Tuk-Tuk drives charge Bht.20 for every short trip.